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Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

ON  THE  CHANGE  OF  REFRANGIBILITY OF  LIGHT.          395
Of the 1 per cent, of the molecules already vibrating, many are vibrating, we may suppose, nearly with their maximum amplitude, and consequently are not much affected. Besides, it is a great chance if the epoch of the ethereal vibrations belonging to the second stream is such as to produce any great tendency either towards quiescence or towards disturbance in a molecule just for the short time that it is vibrating strongly under the influence of the first stream. But of the 99 per cent, of quiescent molecules 1 per cent, are made to vibrate. Hence the effect of the two streams together is very nearly the same in kind as that of one alone, but double in intensity.
236.    The apparent absence of a protecting influence in the less refrangible rays seems at first more difficult to account for, but perhaps the following reasoning may be thought satisfactory. We ought not to attribute more influence in the direction of protection to a second beam of rays of low refrangibility, than in the contrary direction to a second beam of rays of high refrangibility.    Now if the effect of a beam of rays of high refrangibility be to throw 1 per cent, of the molecules into a state of vibration, it would be a commensurate effect in a beam of rays of low refrangibility to stop the vibrations of 1 per cent, of the molecules, if they were all vibrating.    But since only 1 per cent, are actually vibrating, the  real protecting effect amounts to no more than stopping the vibrations of one molecule in every 10,000, an effect which may be regarded as insensible.
237.    The  simple  consideration that work  cannot be done without the expenditure of power, shows that when light incident on a medium gives rise to dispersed light, a portion at least of the absorption which the medium is observed to exercise must be due to the production of the dispersed light.    If the dispersed light really arises from molecular disturbances, and for my own part I think it almost beyond a question that it does, it follows that in these cases light is absorbed in consequence of its being used up in producing molecular disturbances.    But since we must not needlessly multiply the causes of natural phenomena, we are led to attribute the absorption of light in all cases to the production or augmentation of molecular disturbances, unless reason be shown to the contrary.    It might seem at first sight that the